Working a Film Shoot from 10,355 Miles Away

Last Sunday night, this was my schedule:

Melbourne7:00 PM – Dinner with wife and daughter at home, in NYC

8:00 PM – Film Shoot in Melbourne, Australia

12:00 AM – Back home and brushing my teeth before bed

I know what you’re thinking: I probably should have brushed and flossed right after I ate. I allowed unsightly plaque to build up while I worked…

OK, seriously – yes, it’s true, last Sunday night, after a dinner in NYC, I took part in the filming of a commercial for Holomatrix (a new product from Red Giant Software, created by Dan Ebberts and myself) in Australia. We filmed at Orion Media in Melbourne, the largest dedicated Green Screen Studio in the southern hemisphere (the same people that filmed the clips from Crowd Control, our library of pre-keyed alpha stock footage).  It was all done through Skype.

Me at my desk in NYC, talking to Shannon Young, the director, and Kristian Curcio, the studio manager, in Melbourne. Click for full size image.

This is how we pulled it off: We had 2 laptops open at both ends. One laptop sat on the director’s table so I could talk with him directly (video). The other laptop was facing the computer doing all of the video capture. This way, I was able to see what the camera was seeing, and to show the director (Shannon Young) and actress (Tess Woodward) facial expressions and hand gestures I wanted.

I was able to approve shots immediately, and give direction and motivation with instant feedback. I could talk about camera angles (video) or lighting (handled by Pete Seamons). I was even able to talk to the makeup artist (Bindi Addison) to discuss the actress’ hair and eyes, which were both important for some of the effects we’re going to create.

LEFT: Tess Woodward interacts with holographic elements to be added later. RIGHT: Shannon, Bindi, and Pete review the last shot to make sure it all looks right. Click on the above image for a bigger version.
Sent to me by Kristian via iPhone so I could approve an extreme closeup shot.

In a few cases, when I couldn’t completely see what I needed from Skype, Kristian Curcio, the studio director, sent me images from his iPhone.

All in all – it went very smoothly. No time delay in talking. No misunderstandings.  Thanks to modern tech, I was able to work on a cool project without it having to disrupt my, sleep schedule or my time with my family – 2 things that are becoming very important to me in my old age.

At the end of the day, though, it comes down to the people you’re working with. It really helped that the people on the other end of the skype call were all seasoned pros. Check out Orion Media here, and see if they can help you on your project.

13 thoughts on “Working a Film Shoot from 10,355 Miles Away”

  1. Aaahhh the memmories…. how far we have traveled right Ahaaron?… seems like only yesterday you where popping popcorn for particleillusion on that stove beside your fridge over there.. and now youre creating a toolset that will probably be used on every sci-fi show and film for a long time. well done! 😀

  2. “… seems like only yesterday you where popping popcorn for particleillusion on that stove beside your fridge over there.. ”

    Yes and no – yeah it does seem like yesterday, but the kitchen you see there is the one at All Bets Are Off Productions. In the few years I’ve been here, I don’t think I’ve ever used that oven. The one that I used in my pIllusion videos was at home. It’s much nicer. And I think I once made fish in that one. Oh and English Muffin Pizza.

    And as far as the sci-fi show thing: That would be awesome if it were true. Thanks!

  3. This is “a” solution to peak oil. Many, many occupations can employ this same technology and allow more people to work from home. Awesome!

  4. Way cool. It still amazes me all the time, how far technology has come in the last couple decades.

    Hell, 15 years ago your Sunday night would have been the sci-fi.

  5. Wow! Imagine the time and resources you saved, all because of cool technology like the internet and Skype! Amazing what we can accomplish these days, ain’t it?

    @Jim Hines: I totally agree with your “solution.” I hope more employers implement and take advantage of technology like what Aharon did.

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